Chelsea vs Tottenham - Capital One Cup final: Mauricio Pochettino will not lose any sleep over deciding final side

Pochettino may leave it until Sunday morning to name his team

Click to follow
The Independent Football

Mauricio Pochettino displayed his ruthless side when he shrugged off concerns about players left out for Sunday’s Capital One Cup final as “not a big issue”.

While the Tottenham manager understands how desperate every member of his squad will be to face Chelsea at Wembley, he said there would be no special measures to break the bad news to the players he does not select.

Beneath Pochettino’s surface amiability he is a steely winner and he insisted, at Tottenham’s pre-final press day before they flew to Florence this week, that he was the boss and the team must come first.

“Always it is a difficult moment,” Pochettino said, the final being no different from any other game. “Players always want to play, in  all competitions and friendlies, too.

“Every time you pick the starting 11 or the squad of 18 it is always difficult to communicate to the players who are not in the squad. But this is football, this is our job and the players need to understand my decision.”


Pochettino may leave it until Sunday morning to name his team and, when asked how he would maintain the engagement of those he did not pick, he said it was not one of his main concerns.

“I think it is not a big issue that, it’s football,” Pochettino said. “The players know that only 18 players can be in the squad and only 11 can start. It’s not a different rule for the final. The players, like on the first day, need to understand that I am the boss. I decide  the squad. I decide the starting XI and I decide who plays and who does not.  No change.

“It is true that it is a final and an important game but the players need to accept my decision, like in the past.”

As Pochettino likes to explain, players have no  entitlement to play matches. They have to work hard and then the manager chooses his strongest team.

“When you are in football and you are a player,” he said, “when you sign the contract it is for training, to give your best in training – and after that you have to wait for the decision of the manager. This is my job.”

Pochettino has his own experience of this issue and cannot be accused of hypocrisy. When Espanyol faced Real Zaragoza in the 2006 Copa del Rey final, coach Miguel Angel Lotina left a 34-year-old Pochettino on the bench, and did not bring him on.

Espanyol won 4-1, though, and Pochettino said he understood the decision. “Always I had full respect for the decision from my manager,” he said. “If I don’t play, another team-mate plays.”

The biggest decision that Pochettino has to make is in goal. He has rotated between Michel Vorm and Hugo Lloris all season, but Vorm has played in the Capital One Cup and the fact that Lloris was in goal against Fiorentina on Thursday night has been taken as an indication that Vorm is likely to play on Sunday.

Pochettino, as ever, was unwilling to go into specifics but he said he does not see this game as especially different from the 44 games Spurs have already played this  season. “Every game I take a decision and Sunday is another decision that I need to make,” he said. “In each game and every game I analyse, take a decision and analyse which is the best side to pick.  Why should Sunday be different from the past?”

Wembley will be divided on Sunday but Pochettino knows he can rely on support from home. “Tottenham are famous in Argentina because of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa,” he said. “Now I am here and Erik Lamela is here, the interest is bigger. All our games are on live in Argentina.”